General Electric Co is holding discussions on partnerships or an IPO for its NBC Universal unit, Chief Executive Jeffrey Immelt said, as expectations grow about a deal with cable operator Comcast Corp.
"Discussions are ongoing whether it is IPO or other partnership," Immelt told reporters on Friday in response to a question on whether GE was talking to Comcast to sell a stake in NBC.
On Thursday, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that GE and Comcast are discussing a deal under which the largest U.S. cable firm would take control of 51 percent of NBC Universal with GE keeping the rest.
GE, which owns 80 percent of NBC Universal, is said to be pondering its options for the fourth-place TV network and ailing movie studio as its partner, Vivendi, draws closer to a decision on whether to unload its 20 percent stake.
GE has the right of first refusal to pick up Vivendi's stake if the French company exercises its annual option to sell.
Immelt declined comment when asked if GE was planning to buy Vivendi's stake.
Immelt was in New Delhi to announce the integration of the firm's healthcare units in south Asia into a joint venture it runs with No. 3 Indian outsourcer Wipro Ltd.
"The financial aspect is relatively small. The focus is really on growing the business in future, this is more about consolidation of all disparate GE healthcare enterprises inside one substantial JV," he told a news conference.
Immelt, who heads the largest U.S. conglomerate with interests in energy, finance, consumer products and appliances, transport and water, said he saw some improvement in the markets of the United States, Europe and other developed economies.
"The capital markets have definitely improved. There is reason to see stability and some optimism for the future," he said.